Jimmy Calderwood became the first Aberdeen manager since Sir Alex Ferguson two decades ago to complete a campaign without losing a game to Rangers, as his side dealt a potentially fatal blow yesterday to Ibrox hopes of qualifying for the Champions' League.
Scott Severin's 68th-minute equaliser will be wildly acclaimed by his old side, Heart of Midlothian, because this result helps the Edinburgh club immensely. They are now five points ahead of Rangers in the race for second place, with four games left.
No one has done more damage to Alex McLeish's bid to leave a Champions' League legacy to Paul Le Guen, his successor, than Calderwood. Aberdeen's two victories and two draws against Rangers have stripped away 10 crucial points.
The Dons travelled to Glasgow with greater optimism than for a long time and their 1,000 fans provided the most colourful display with a forest of red and white flags.
They might have been celebrating a goal after just 13 minutes when Zander Diamond met Jamie Smith's corner but Rangers' goalkeeper Ronald Waterreus pawed the ball to safety as it threatened to cross the line. Then, six minutes later, Gary Dempsey squandered a clear chance when his volley from 12 yards flew wide.
Rangers, though, dominated the half in terms of pressure, racking up 10 corners. However, Jamie Langfield in the Aberdeen goal performed heroically. He denied Dado Prso's 24th-minute header before eclipsing that, seven minutes before the interval, by tipping Sotirios Kyrgiakos's looping header over the bar.
Julien Rodriguez then headed wide from another Chris Burke corner in stoppage time as the frustration grew inside Ibrox. Indeed, there was a collective sigh of relief from the Rangers support two minutes into the second half when Dempsey thrashed a 25-yard shot off the bar with Waterreus clutching thin air.
Rangers took advantage of that escape to surge ahead just four minutes later as Kris Boyd netted his 32nd of a prolific season, and his 15th since moving to Ibrox from Kilmarnock in January. Kyrgiakos launched a long ball that Prso knocked down to Boyd, who turned Russell Anderson and squeezed a shot past Langfield from seven yards.
Ibrox erupted, more in relief, and Boyd could have killed the contest soon after when Prso's overhead kick dropped on to his head but he missed the target from point-blank range. It was a costly miss, as Severin proved in the 68th minute.
Kyrgiakos gave away a free-kick outside the box by slicing down Dempsey, allowing Jamie Smith to roll the ball into Severin's path and the midfielder's raking shot took a deflection off Rodriguez to elude Waterreus.
Smith could then have added another but as the clock became Rangers' enemy, Langfield snuffed out a threat from Prso and jeers rained down at full-time as the gravity of Rangers' situation became apparent.Reuse content